KINGSTON, R.I. - Rhode Island director of athletics Thorr Bjorn has announced the promotion of Raphael Cerrato to interim head coach of the Rhode Island baseball program, following the departure of Jim Foster. Cerrato will serve as head coach through the end of the 2015 season, at which point a full search will be conducted.
"I am thrilled that Coach Cerrato has decided to stay here at URI," Bjorn said. "As a former Rhode Island baseball player himself, he has an incredible amount of pride in this program. I think that this is a wonderful opportunity for him to show what a talented coach he is. I am confident that he will be a great fit and continue to move our program forward."
A 1994 Rhode Island graduate, Cerrato has served as URI's top assistant for the past three seasons, working specifically with the team's infielders and hitters. During that span, the Rams established a new single-season record for fielding percentage (.970 in 2013) while All-American and MLB draftee Jeff Roy recorded the program's second-best single-season performance in both hits (84) and runs scored (59) in 2012.
As Foster's recruiting coordinator, Cerrato has played a key role in bringing in four Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team selections as well helping the Rams claim a share of the A-10 regular season title in 2013.
"The University of Rhode Island is a place that will always be special to me and I am so grateful for the opportunity to lead this program," Cerrato said. "We have a great group of players returning in the fall, as well as a solid group of freshmen coming in to the University, and I can't wait to get back out on the field with these guys.
"This is a place that I want to be for long, long time. I was lucky to involved in the resurgence of the program under Frank Leoni before being a part of what Jim Foster continued to build. I am incredibly thankful for being given the chance to add to the tradition and success of Rhode Island baseball."
Cerrato - who served as a volunteer assistant for the Rams during the 1997 season - returned to Kingston in 2012, after spending the previous five years as the head coach at New Haven. There, he led the Chargers to a 131-97 (.575) from 2007-11 and guided the club to the 2010 NCAA Tournament.
In his time at New Haven, Cerrato saw All-American closer Mitch Rossi become the program's all-time leader in saves while catcher Michael Moras was selected in the 2008 MLB Draft.
Cerrato was just the second head coach in the history of the New Haven's baseball program, replacing 44-year skipper Frank "Porky" Vieira, on July 1, 2006. He had joined Vieira's staff as the associate head coach in June of 2005, following a five-year stint as an assistant coach at Brown University. There, he served as the Bears' hitting, outfield and infield instructor and coordinated student-athlete recruitment.
Before his time at Brown, Cerrato spent three years as the top assistant at Massachusetts.
An Enfield, Conn. native, Cerrato was a member of the Rhody baseball team from 1989-93. He captained the Rams in 1993 and was an Atlantic 10 All-Conference pick in 1992. He currently lives in South Kingstown with his fiancée Kerri and her son Tyler.